Zhong Nanshan, 84, is the director of the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease at the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University.
In his 60-year career of being a doctor and teacher, he has perfectly explained the original aspiration and mission of medical practitioners with his professionalism, courage and generous spirit.
His career exactly echoes what he remarked at a recent meeting to commend role models in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 epidemic: To protect people’s lives and health is the original aspiration and mission of medical practitioners.
In early 2003, China was hit by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, and the situation was extremely severe.
Facing such an unprecedented virus, Zhong denied the viewpoint that the epidemic was caused by typical chlamydia with his professionalism and rich experience, thus offering a solid basis for making a timely treatment plan.
He made such judgment because he had checked the oral cavity of every patient. He was once asked by a friend if he was afraid of misjudgment, as any error would reduce his reputation as an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He simply replied that science is fact-oriented and scientists shall not dodge problems for the sake of keeping out of disputes, otherwise, the patients would suffer.
When the country was combating the SARS epidemic, Zhong and his team worked around the clock and finally achieved a set of effective treatment methods, making prominent contribution to lowering mortality and improving recovery rate.
Though Zhong is very honorable, he always says he’s just a doctor. However, this extraordinary doctor, in both the responses to SARS and COVID-19, has always acted practically and realistically, conveying confidence and sense of security to the public with his professionalism and responsibility.
In 2003, he volunteered to receive the most critical SARS patients, and 17 years later, he once again stressed that doctors shall be the first to rush to the frontline in combating COVID-19. He always carries on his shoulders the responsibility of a doctor.
A photo of Zhong taken on Jan. 18 this year went viral on Chinese social media, in which Zhong was taking a nap, frowning, on a dining car of a high-speed train to Wuhan, former epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic. What was in front of him was a pile of documents that he had just read through. Reminding the public to not to go to Wuhan, he was rushing to the city to save lives.
Two days later, Zhong, the head of a high-level expert team organized by China’s top national health body, warned the public that the virus was transmissible among humans. Ever since, he has led his team to race against time, advancing clinical treatment and scientific research simultaneously.
During the period of COVID-19 control, he and his team initiated 41 COVID-19 clinical trial projects, and published over 50 articles on renowned international academic journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine. Besides, they led the making of three COVID-19 guidance projects, and finished two relevant books.
Zhong has not only rendered meritorious service to his country, but also made positive contribution to the global anti-epidemic efforts. He joined 32 international teleconferences, and had in-depth communication with medical experts from 13 countries and deputies from 158 foreign missions in China.
Zhong is more than a doctor. Every time when public health emergencies happened, he showcased not only his sense of responsibility as an academician, but also the courage of a warrior. He was always on the frontline fearlessly.
Today, he still makes ward rounds on Wednesday morning and receives outpatients on every Thursday afternoon. According to his colleagues, he always warms the echometer in winter before putting it on the patients, and help them lay down and get up for examination. No matter how old the patients are or what diseases they suffer, Zhong treats them equally.
“I don’t feel tired as long as I’m saving people,” he always says.
Recently, Zhong has been selected as a member of a panel appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to review the COVID-19 response. He will offer assistance and positive contribution to the work of the panel with his professionalism and experience.